Saturday, December 18, 2010

Medical-pot zoning OK'd

Phoenix became the latest Valley city to approve zoning changes that would regulate the location of medical-marijuana dispensaries and where plants can be grown.

Dispensaries in commercial strip malls and other retail centers will have to be at least 250 feet away from residential neighborhoods and can't be larger than 2,000 square feet.

Medical marijuana facilities also will be required to obtain use permits from Phoenix before operating in the city.

The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to support the changes, which include:

- Limiting medical-marijuana sales to strip malls and commercial shopping centers.

- Limiting facilities for growing to mostly industrial/warehouse districts and agricultural areas.

- Limiting infusion facilities that would blend medical marijuana into products such as brownies, teas and lotions to heavy-industrial areas.

- Spacing requirements between dispensaries and churches, residential areas, public parks and schools.

Phoenix adopted the regulations in response to the November passage of Proposition 203, which makes it legal for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to certain patients.

Councilwoman Peggy Neely said the use-permit requirement will protect the community from seeing several medical-marijuana facilities in a single commercial shopping center.

"We want to make sure we don't have clustering going on," Neely said.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the ballot measure into law Tuesday, making the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act effective Wednesday.

The law allows about 120 dispensaries to open in Arizona.

Cities and towns have been crafting their regulations before the Arizona Department of Health Services develops rules regulating the industry.

The health department has until April 16.

by Lynh Bui The Arizona Republic Dec. 16, 2010 12:00 AM

Medical-pot zoning OK'd

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